JOHOR BARU: Images of dead fish and black smelly water are closely associated with Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang now because of the chemical waste that was illegally dumped there last Wednesday.
One of the most affected villages in the area is Kampung Bukit Pulai, where the river runs beneath the village main road that connects Kota Masai and Taman Pasir Putih.
A visit by StarMetro to the village found the area filled with a strong oil stench, with villagers seen covering their nose each time they were near the river.
One of the villagers, Zulkifli Kasim, said the oil has been accumulating in a ditch in a mangrove area about 500m downstream from Jalan Cermai 13, near Kampung Bukit Pulai.
“Checks done by the Fire and Rescue Department in the village revealed the air here is about 5% polluted by the gas emitted from the chemical in the river.
“There is one part along the river where the oil has remained stagnant and accumulating during the low tide, and the heat from the sun would dry it up, leaving a smell that is carried by the wind,” he said.
The 50 year-old added that the river area was only accessible by boat during high tide and the oil has not been flowing towards the sea since last Wednesday.
“The smell there is more horrible, the river is black with dead fish and monitor lizards floating in the area.
“That area is inaccessible on foot because of the snake habitat and drones cannot fly there because of the mangrove tree branches, so the only way to see it is by boat,” he added.Zulkifli hoped more action could be taken by Johor Department of Environment (DoE) and relevant agencies in helping the villagers in the area.
“I am concerned for my fellow villagers here, as they also have children going to school in SK and SMK Taman Pasir Putih.
“I believe more time will be required by the agencies to clean up this mess even though DoE expects clean up works will be completed in five days,” he said, adding that the villagers were willing to offer their help.
Meanwhile, another villager, Nur Satria Rabu, 33, hoped the culprit behind this incident would face the consequences of their irresponsible action that affected the people in the area.
“Our village is not a dumping site for industries to come and just dispose of their waste, we have people living here that depend on the river for their livelihoods,” he said.
He added that the smell and pollution had spread along the river.
Nur Satria, a part-time fisherman, has now lost one of his daily sources of income because of pollution.
“It is hard to navigate through the river because of the strong smell and there is no point catching the fish if all of them are dead,” he said.
It was reported earlier that DoE was currently identifying the culprit behind the chemical waste dump in Sungai Kim Kim here, which led to 79 people being treated from breathing in hazardous fumes.